001 Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice: A road trip across central Canada – Part II

In the last post, we covered the ‘Ice’ part of Fire and Ice. Let’s look at the fire. The prairies are not everyone’s favourite place and Saskatchewan gets a lot of flak for being boring and flat. Well, I love Saskatchewan because it’s not flat, it’s not boring, and it’s the land of the living skies. In a word: gorgeous. Here are the remaining highlights from my Grand Cache to Southern Ontario road trip!

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Not to be confused with Drumheller, this UNESCO world heritage site is a natural preserve with abundant fossils and a chance to explore the Alberta Badlands. You can’t see the park from a distance, the landscape is flat. It is hidden from view until you drive around a corner and suddenly you can see everything. You can explore the fossils found here and explore the millions of years of history embedded in the rock. This was a great change after driving in the prairies all day. (We missed the mountains)

Great Sand Hills

The Great Sand Hills Ecological Reserve is not a park, nor is it easily accessible. We had to drive 18km down a freshly graveled road, drive over Texas Gates, and drive on a harder gravel road that suddenly turned onto a sand road! It was insane. We were there right at sunset, and it was beautiful. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Grasslands National Park

Grasslands National Park is the only park to represent the prairie region. It’s made up of two parts. The West Block, which is stunning desert-like grasslands, and the East Block, which features fossils and badlands. We visited the West Block and stayed overnight in the Dark Sky Preserve. I’m going to have to do a whole post just about this one place, because it was amazing. We hiked, geocached, camped, saw the stars, stared down some bison, watched the prairie dogs play, and more. It was great! We got a geocoin for our efforts too!

Lake Superior

After Saskatchewan, we hooked back onto the TransCanada Hwy and just motored through Manitoba and Northern Ontario. We stopped at a few places here and there, but nothing overly special. Lake Superior takes the cake though. I absolutely understand why the Group of Seven loved it up there. Here are some pics of the still-icy waters of Lake superior

South Baymouth

I think I need to move to a harbour town. Everything seems so right. We decided to drive through Manitoulin Island, one of the places I frequented as a child, and take the Chi-cheemaun back. That was a right call.

I was so happy to take yet another road trip across this beautiful country, and I’d be glad to do it again soon. Maybe next time will be to the Canadian Arctic or to the Maritimes. Who knows?

Stay Curious

– O

001 Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice: A road trip across central Canada – Part I

No, this won’t be a five part (so far) novel by George R.R. Martin, but it was the best title to describe our trip. One day we were in four feet of snow, the other we were standing atop of a sand dune. One day we were walking through grasslands, the other we were standing ashore of an ice lake.

While planning this trip – a 4500km journey from Grand Cache to Southern Ontario – I realized that this is my SEVENTH driving trip to and from Alberta (12th if you count flying). Canada is such a beautiful place; I will never get bored of it!

My friend, Melissa, and I took six days to drive the route. Sure, we could have taken a shorter, more direct route, but instead we ticked off some awesome bucket list items and found some geocaches along the way.

So here are my highlights from the trip, in chronological order:

Pyramid Lake

Going through Jasper and Banff National Parks is an obvious choice. I’ve done different routes, but the Icefields Parkway is one of the prettiest drives. Which brings us to our first stop. Pyramid Lake, Pyramid Island, Pyramid Mountain – they can all be found just 5 minutes north of Jasper. I’ve been up a couple of time to the area, and each time it is more beautiful. While we were there, a couple was getting married and the sun was shining on the red mountain.

Athabasca Falls

Another great stop along Icefields Parkway, this well-known waterfall just shows the force of water and what it can do to the surrounding landscape. The waterfall isn’t particularly tall, but it is known for the force and quantity of water that flow through. I’ve been to these falls a couple of times, and I was surprised how much the water flow fluctuates. I’ve seen the water flow over like the river is about to burst, but this time around water was only a trickle in comparison. Yet, the power of water never ceases to enamour me.

Columbia Icefields – Athabasca Glacier

Probably one of the most accessible glaciers, the Athabasca Glacier is just a short walk from the roadside pull out. However, the roadside pull out was closed for the winter (yeah, I know, it’s May). So, unfortunately, with time constraints, we couldn’t walk all the way there, but we had a good stop at our viewpoint. The glacier is gorgeous, but there’s a sad fact that the glacier is receding by 5 metres a year, which is astronomical in term of glaciers.

Peyto Lake

This could constitute as one of our “ice” stops of the trip. Normally, the path to the summit is a short, but steep paved path. The day we were there, we walked through four feet of snow to get to the top. Luckily, because of overuse, the top of the snow had solidified, making an ice bridge only a foot wide. One wrong step and you’re falling into four feet of snow. It was treacherous climbing and treacherous going down, but so worth it. Oh and apparently, I’ve been saying this wrong the whole time! It’s “Pee-toe” not “Pay-toe”.

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake

Geocaching in Banff

We ended up in Banff for our first overnight. But first, a geocaching extravaganza! We earned our amazing geocoin for completing the Banff geocaching challenge! The challenge took us to Vermillion Lakes, the Hoodoos Trail, and the Fenland Trail. All of which were amazing and beautiful! If you ever go to Banff, hit up the beginner challenge. Next time I go back, I’m going to attempt the intermediate challenge!

Too much ice? Read part two (tomorrow) for the FIRE!

Stay Curious

– O

Sneak Peek at our Woods Canada application

April Favourites – Where the adventures are beginning

Favourite Adventure:

April has been one hell of an adventure. From biking riding, to geocaching, to hiking, to kayaking, to dog sitting, I am taking every advantage of the nice weather! It’s that time in Canada where, even though it is only 10 degrees outside, people are starting to wear t-shirts.

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World

Bucket list to win!

I’ve a big promoter of bucket lists. Since I started writing down the things I have wanted to do – from vague ideas to planned events – I have experienced more than I ever thought I would.

In fact, I love bucket lists so much I was even interviewed about them.

So when Transun is offering a chance to see the Northern Lights by choosing your top three travel destinations, I had to jump at the chance, even if it means choosing only three.

I’ve been lucky enough to live in a country where you can see the northern lights. Especially up North. But I have yet to photograph them. And that is definitely on my bucket list.

Here are my top three travel destinations:

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Hiking Log - Seek

Why Keep a Hiking Log – Free Printable

Who would Lewis and Clark, or Marco Polo, or Ferdinand Magellan be without record keeping. Their discoveries and accomplishments would be lost over time (even though Magellan had someone write for him).

If you like to dream of yourself of as an explorer of the world, like myself, then keeping a log means more than a report. It is a chance to be creative while recording your nature outings. In some cases, like the Bruce Trail, in order to receive badges for end-to-end hikes you must send in your hiking logs.

This summer I have some big plans, including big hiking trips and small geocaching trips, so I don’t want to forget any details. That’s why I’ve started a hiking log. It helps me keep track of the important information, like starting/end points, duration, and observances.

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Explore the Elements

#ExploretheElements

You dont have to tell me twice about entering a photo contest. I love the excuse to peruse old photos and relive favourites. Thankfully, there are some great contests out there, like Explore the Elements contest by Thomas Cook.

To enter is simple, publish four photographs, one for each of the elements – earth, air, fire, and water – then nominate five other bloggers to do the same.

Earth

“Represents the hard, solid objects of the earth Associated with stubbornness, collectiveness , physicality and gravity”

It is hard to explain the Rockies to someone. “A mountain range” doesn’t cut it, nor does “A park in the mountains”. The Rockies is a quintessential Canadian symbol of hardship, exploration, and conservation. From the very first National Park, to the daring modern adventures, Jasper and Banff National Parks are the perfect way to celebrate the meaning of Earth.

Air

“Represents things that grow, expand, and enjoy freedom of movement Associated with will, elusiveness, evasiveness, benevolence, compassion, and wisdom”

There is a reason they say that there is always a breeze on the Prairies; there is something magical about the wide open sky. The Canadian Prairies are probably one of my favourite parts of this country, the crazy weather, the beautiful night skies, and thousands of kilometres for that breeze to whisper through.

Fire

“Represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world Associated with security, motivation, desire, intention, and an outgoing spirit”

Fire represents more than just an elements. Its about passion and spirit. These horses on the crest of a hill embodies the spirit of Montana. Hard work, ranch life, and big sky country are written in this photo.

Water

“Represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world Associated with emotion, defensiveness, adaptability, flexibility, suppleness, and magnetism”

The island of Paros in Greece left me breathless. I took this one of my travel buddy Elizabeth while relaxing at the end of our trip. The endless water of an infinity pool and the Mediterranean Sea give a surreal feel.

Now I get to nominate others. Here are five bloggers (and great photographers) that I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with in the past.

Go forth nominees and spread creativity to the world with your great photos (I mean you could win a laptop, a smartphone, a new camera, or a £5,000 travel fund)

Stay Curious,

Olivia

Christmas by Candlelight

A German Christmas

The Christkindl Market in Kitchener is the largest of it’s kind outside of Germany. This is the 18th Annual Christkindl Market in Kitchener, while the Christmas Market itself dates back to 1310!

There was skating, German food, Crafts, and Vendors, where you could by the famous Christmas Pickle. There was a candlelight procession to the tree lighting ceremony where Christkindl himself and the Angels spoke in German to open the Market. They opened the ceremony with the Prologue, a poem spoken in Germans between the Angels. The tree was then lit, and the Market declared open.

It is so amazing going to events like this, even they are so close to home. It makes this part of the year, my favourite part, so special.

I found a translated poem, which I have included below:

You men and women, who once yourselves were children,
You little ones, life’s journey just beginning,
Each and all, who troubled tomorrow, are full of cheer today,
Pray listen to what Christkind has come to say!

Every year, four weeks before the time,
To decorate the Christmas tree, to celebrate the season,
Appears upon this square, your forebears knew it too,
What you here see, called Christkindlesmarkt by you,

This little town within the town, of wood and cloth made,
Whose short-lived splendor so fleeting seems to be,
And yet it is eternal. My market shall forever young remain.
As long as Nuremberg stands, and the memory of that market’s fame.

For Nuremberg is both old and young at once,
The many features of its countenance beyond all count.
Here this noble square. But now adjoining it,
The tall buildings of today, the factories of the modern world
The new city of so much green. And yet, you men and women true
It will remain forever the Nuremberg that is you.

Now as the old year ends there comes the day,
When wishes can be made and presents given,
When the market shines forth far and wide,
With decorations, and crystal balls, and blessed Christmastime
This you may not forget, you men and women, heed my word,
He who has all needs nothing more,
There are the children of this world and poor,
Who know the best what giving’s for.

You men and women, who once yourselves were children,
Be them again today, happy as children be,
And now the Christkind to its market calls,
And all who come are truly welcome.

Remembrance Day

Lest we Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

– John McCrae (1915)

My 10 favorite things about Fall

Fall is without a doubt the best season. I can work through my brain fog of allergies to enjoy the gorgeous and breathtaking wonders of fall.

This fall, I have had the privilege of spending it on both sides of the country. Ontario still is #1 when it comes to the amazing colours.

Here is a list of my favourite things about Fall and a few pictures too look at along the way.

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